Travels in West Africa, by Mary H. Kingsley

Chapter XV. Fetish — (continued).

In which the Voyager complains of the inconveniences arising from the method of African thought, and discourses on apparitions and Deities.

However much some of the African’s mental attributes get under-rated, I am sure there are others of them for which he gets more credit than he deserves. One of these is his imagination. It strikes the new-comer with awe, and frequently fills him with rage, when he first meets it; but as he matures and gets used to the African, he sees the string. For the African fancy is not the “aerial fancy flying free,” mentioned by our poets, but merely the aerial of the theatre suspended by a wire or cord. The wire that supports the African’s fancy may be a very thin, small fact indeed, or in some cases merely his incapacity to distinguish between animate and inanimate objects, which give rise to his idea that everything is possessed of a soul. Everything has a soul to him, and to make confusion worse confounded, he usually believes in the existence of matter apart from its soul. But there is little he won’t believe in, if it comes to that; and I have a feeling of thankfulness that Buddhism, Theosophy, and above all Atheism, which chases its tail and proves that nothing can be proved, have not yet been given the African to believe in.

The African’s want of making it clear in his language whether he is referring to an animate or inanimate thing, has landed me in many a dilemma, and his foolishness in not having a male and female gender in his languages amounts to a nuisance. For example, I am a most ladylike old person and yet get constantly called “Sir.” The other day, circumstances having got beyond my control during the afternoon, I arrived in the evening in a saturated condition at a white settlement, and wishing to get accommodation for myself and my men, I made my way to the factory of a firm from whose representatives I have always received great and most courteous help. The agent in charge was not at home, and his steward-boy said, “Massa live for Mr. B.‘s house.” “Go tell him I live for come from,” etc., said I, and “I fit for want place for my men.” I had nothing to write on, or with, and I thought the steward-boy could carry this little message to its destination without dropping any of it, as Mr. B.‘s house was close by; but I was wrong. Off he went, and soon returned with the note I here give a copy of:—

“DEAR OLD MAN,

“You must be in a deuce of a mess after the tornado. Just help yourself to a set of my dry things. The shirts are in the bottom drawer, the trousers are in the box under the bed, and then come over here to the sing-song. My leg is dickey or I’d come across. — Yours,” etc.

Had there been any smelling salts or sal volatile in this subdivision of the Ethiopian region, I should have forthwith fainted on reading this, but I well knew there was not, so I blushed until the steam from my soaking clothes (for I truly was “in a deuce of a mess”) went up in a cloud and then, just as I was, I went “across” and appeared before the author of that awful note. When he came round, he said it had taken seven years’ growth out of him, and was intensely apologetic. I remarked it had very nearly taken thirty years’ growth out of me, and he said the steward-boy had merely informed him that “White man live for come from X,” a place where he knew there was another factory belonging to his firm, and he naturally thought it was the agent from X who had come across.

You rarely, indeed I believe never, find an African with a gift for picturesque descriptions of scenery. The nearest approach to it I ever got was from my cook when we were on Mungo mah Lobeh. He proudly boasted he had been on a mountain, up Cameroon River, with a German officer, and on that mountain, “If you fall down one side you die, if you fall down other side you die.”

Graphic and vivid descriptions of incidents you often get, but it is not Art. The effect is produced entirely by a bald brutality of statement, the African having no artistic reticence whatsoever. One fine touch, however, which does not come in under this class was told me by my lamented friend Mr. Harris of Calabar. Some years ago he had out a consignment of Dutch clocks with hanging weights, as is natural to the Dutch clock. They were immensely popular among the chiefs, and were soon disposed of save one, which had seen trouble on the voyage out and lost one of its weights. Mr. Harris, who was a man of great energy and resource, melted up some metal spoons and made a new weight and hung it on the clock. The day he finished this a chief came in, anxious for a Dutch clock, and Mr. Harris forthwith sold him the repaired one. About a week elapsed, and then the chief turned up at the factory again with a rueful countenance, followed by a boy carrying something swathed in a cloth. It was the clock.

“You do me bad too much, Mr. Harris,” said the chief. Mr. Harris denied this on the spot with the vehemence of injured innocence. The chief shook his head and spat profusely and sorrowfully.

“You no sabe him clock you done sell me?” said he. “When I look him clock it no be today, it be to morrow.” Mr. Harris took the clock back, to see what was the cause of this strange state of affairs. Of course it arose from his having been too liberal in the amount of spoon in the weight, and this being altered, the chief was not hurried onward to his grave at such a rattling pace; “but,” said Mr. Harris, “that clock was a flyer to the last.”

But I will not go into the subject of African languages here, but only remark of them that although they are elaborate enough to produce, for their users, nearly every shade of erroneous statement, they are not, save perhaps M’pongwe, elaborate enough to enable a native to state his exact thought. Some of them are very dependent on gesture. When I was with the Fans they frequently said, “We will go to the fire so that we can see what they say,” when any question had to be decided after dark, and the inhabitants of Fernando Po, the Bubis, are quite unable to converse with each other unless they have sufficient light to see the accompanying gestures of the conversation. In all cases I feel sure the African’s intelligence is far ahead of his language.

The African is usually great at dreams, and has them very noisily; but he does not seem to me to attach immense importance to them, certainly not so much as the Red Indian does. I doubt whether there is much real ground for supposing that from dreams came man’s first conception of the spirit world, and I think the origin of man’s religious belief lies in man’s misfortunes.

There can be little doubt that the very earliest human beings found, as their descendants still find, their plans frustrated, let them plan ever so wisely and carefully; they must have seen their companions overtaken by death and disaster, arising both from things they could see and from things they could not see. The distinction between these two classes of phenomena is not so definitely recognised by savages or animals as it is by the more cultured races of humanity. I doubt whether a savage depends on his five senses alone to teach him what the world is made of, any more than a Fellow of the Royal Society does. From this method of viewing nature I feel sure that the general idea arose — which you find in all early cultures — that death was always the consequence of the action of some malignant spirit, and that there is no accidental or natural death, as we call it; and death is, after all, the most impressive attribute of life.

If a man were knocked on the head with a club, or shot with an arrow, the cause of death is clearly the malignancy of the person using these weapons; and so it is easy to think that a man killed by a fallen tree, or by the upsetting of a canoe in the surf, or in an eddy in the river, is also the victim of some being using these things as weapons.

A man having thus gained a belief that there are more than human actors in life’s tragedy, the idea that disease is also a manifestation of some invisible being’s wrath and power seems to me natural and easy; and he knows you can get another man for a consideration to kill or harm a third party, and so he thinks that, for a consideration, you can also get one of these superhuman beings, which we call gods or devils, but which the African regards in another light, to do so.

A certain set of men and women then specialise off to study how these spirits can be managed, and so arises a priesthood; and the priests, or medicine men as they are called in their earliest forms, gradually, for their own ends, elaborate and wrap round their profession with ritual and mystery.

The savage is also conscious of another great set of phenomena which, he soon learns, take no interest in human affairs. The sun which rises and sets, the moon which changes, the tides which come and go:— what do they care? Nothing; and what is more, sacrifice to them what you may, you cannot get them to care about you and your affairs, and so the savage turns his attention to those other spirits that do take only too much interest, as is proved by those unexpected catastrophes; and, as their actions show, these spirits are all malignant, so he deals with them just as he would deal with a bad man whom he was desirous of managing. He flatters and fees them, he deprives himself of riches to give to them as sacrifices, believing they will relish it all the more because it gives him pain of some sort to give it to them. He holds that they think it will be advisable for them to encourage him to continue the giving by occasionally doing what he asks them. Naturally he never feels sure of them; he sees that you may sacrifice to a god for years, you may wrap him up — or more properly speaking, the object in which he resides — in your only cloth on chilly nights while you shiver yourself; you and your children, and your mother, and your sister and her children, may go hungry that food may rot upon his shrine; and yet, in some hour of dire necessity, the power will not come and save you — because he has been lured away by some richer gifts than yours.

You white men will say, “Why go on believing in him then?” but that is an idea that does not enter the African mind. I might just as well say “Why do you go on believing in the existence of hansom cabs,” because one hansom cab driver malignantly fails to take you where you want to go, or fails to arrive in time to catch a train you wished to catch.

The African fully knows the liability of his fetish to fail, but he equally fully knows its power. One, to me, grandly tragic instance of this I learnt at Opobo. There was a very great Fetish doctor there, universally admired and trusted, who lived out on the land at the mouth of the Great River. One day he himself fell sick, and he made ju-ju against the sickness; but it held on, and he grew worse. He made more ju-ju of greater power, but again in vain, and then he made the greatest ju-ju man can make, and it availed nought, and he knew he was dying; and so, with his remaining strength, he broke up and dishonoured and destroyed all the Fetishes in which the spirits lived, and cast them out into the surf and died like a man.

Then horror came upon the people when they knew he had done this, and they burnt his house and all things belonging to him, and cried upon the spirits not to forsake them, not to lay this one man’s deadly sin at their doors.

In connection with the gods of West Africa I may remark that in almost all the series of native tradition there, you will find accounts of a time when there was direct intercourse between the gods or spirits that live in the sky, and men. That intercourse is always said to have been cut off by some human error; for example, the Fernando Po people say that once upon a time there was no trouble or serious disturbance upon earth because there was a ladder, made like the one you get palm-nuts with, “only long, long;” and this ladder reached from earth to heaven so the gods could go up and down it and attend personally to mundane affairs. But one day a cripple boy started to go up the ladder, and he had got a long way up when his mother saw him, and went up in pursuit. The gods, horrified at the prospect of having boys and women invading heaven, threw down the ladder, and have since left humanity severely alone. The Timneh people, north-east of Sierra Leone, say that in old times God was very friendly with men, and when He thought a man had lived long enough on earth, He sent a messenger to him telling him to come up into the sky, and stay with Him; but once there was a man who, when the messenger of God came, did not want to leave his wives, his slaves, and his riches, and so the messenger had to go back without him; and God was very cross and sent another messenger for him, who was called Disease, but the man would not come for him either, and so Disease sent back word to God that he must have help to bring the man; and so God sent another messenger whose name was Death; and Disease and Death together got hold of the man, and took him to God; and God said in future He would always send these messengers to fetch men.

The Fernando Po legend may be taken as fairly pure African, but the Timneh, I expect, is a transmogrified Arabic story — though I do not know of anything like it among Arabic stories; but they are infinite in quantity, and there is a certain ring about it I recognise, and these Timnehs are much in contact with the Mohammedan, Mandingoes, etc. In none of the African stories is there given anything like the importance to dreams that there is given to attempts to account for accidents and death; and surely it must have been more impressive and important to a man to have got his leg or arm snapped off by a crocodile in the river, or by a shark in the surf, or to have got half killed, or have seen a friend killed by a falling tree in the forest in the day time, than to have experienced the most wonderful of dreams. He sees that however terrific his dream-experiences may have been, he was not much the worse for them. Not so in the other case, a limb gone or a life gone is more impressive, and more necessary to account for.

No trace of sun-worship have I ever found. The firmament is, I believe, always the great indifferent and neglected god, the Nyan Kupon of the Tschwi, and the Anzambe, Nzam, etc., of the Bantu races. The African thinks this god has great power if he would only exert it, and when things go very badly with him, when the river rises higher than usual and sweeps away his home and his plantations; when the smallpox stalks through the land, and day and night the corpses float down the river past him, and he finds them jammed among his canoes that are tied to the beach, and choking up his fish traps; and then when at last the death-wail over its victims goes up night and day from his own village, he will rise up and call upon this great god in a terror maddened by despair, that he may hear and restrain the evil workings of these lesser devils; but he evidently finds, as Peer Gynt says, “Nein, er hort nicht. Er ist taub wie gewohnlich” for there is no organised cult for Anzam.

Accounts of apparitions abound in all the West Coast districts, and although the African holds them all in high horror and terror, he does not see anything supernatural in his “Duppy.” It is a horrid thing to happen on, but there is nothing strange about it, and he is ten thousand times more frightened than puzzled over the affair. He does not want to “investigate” to see whether there is anything in it. He wants to get clear away, and make ju-ju against it, “one time.”

These apparitions have a great variety of form, for, firstly, there are all the true spirits, nature spirits; secondly, the spirits of human beings — these human spirits are held to exist before as well as during and after bodily life; thirdly, the spirits of things. Probably the most horrid of class one is the Tschwi’s Sasabonsum. Whether Sasabonsum is an individual or a class is not quite clear, but I believe he is a class of spirits, each individual of which has the same characteristics, the same manner of showing anger, the same personal appearance, and the same kind of residence. I am a devoted student of his cult and I am always coming across equivalent forms of him in other tribes as well as the Tschwi, and I think he is very early. As the Tschwi have got their religious notions in a most tidy and definite state, we will take their version of Sasabonsum.

He lives in the forest, in or under those great silk-cotton trees around the roots of which the earth is red. This coloured earth identifies a silk-cotton tree as being the residence of a Sasabonsum, as its colour is held to arise from the blood it whips off him as he goes down to his under-world home after a night’s carnage. All silk-cotton trees are suspected because they are held to be the roosts for Duppies. But the red earth ones are feared with a great fear, and no one makes a path by them, or a camp near them at night.

Sasabonsum is a friend of witches. He is of enormous size, and of a red colour. He wears his hair straight and he waylays unprotected wayfarers in the forest at night, and in all districts except that of Apollonia he eats them. Round Apollonia he only sucks their blood. Natives of this district after meeting him have crawled home and given an account of his appearance, and then expired.

Ellis says he is believed to be implacable, and when angered can never be mollified or propitiated, but it is certain that human victims are constantly sacrificed to him in districts beyond white control; in districts under it, the equivalent value of a human sacrifice in sheep and goats is offered to him. In Ashantee he has priests, and of course human sacrifice. Away among the Dahomeyan tribes — where he has kept his habits but got another name, and seems to have crystallised from a class into an individual — the usual way in which a god develops — he has priests and priestesses, and they are holy terrors; but among the Tschwi, Sasabonsum is mainly dealt with by witches, and people desirous of possessing the power of becoming witches. They derive their power from him in a remarkable way. I put myself to great personal inconvenience (fever risk, mosquito certainty, high leopard and snake palaver probability, and grave personal alarm and apprehension) to verify Colonel Ellis’s account of the methods witches employ in this case, to obtain ehsuhman and I find his account correct. 32

The chief use of a suhman is the power it gives its owner to procure the death of other people, not necessarily his own enemies, for he will sell charms made by the agency of his suhman to another person whose nerves have not been equal to facing Sasabonsum on his own account. He can also provide by its agency other charms, such as those that protect houses from fire, and things and individuals from accidents on the road, or in canoes, and the home circle from good-looking but unprincipled young men, and so on.

As a rule the person who has a suhman keeps the fact pretty quiet, for the possession of such an article would lead half the catastrophes in his district, from the decease of pigs, fowls, and babies, to fires, etc., to be accredited to him, which would lead to his neighbours making “witch palaver” over him, and he would have to undergo poison-ordeal and other unpleasantness to clear his character. He, however, always keeps a special day in his suhman’s honour, and should he be powerful, as a king or big chief, he will keep this day openly. King Kwoffi Karri Kari, whom we fought with in 1874, used to make a big day for his suhman, which was kept in a box covered with gold plates, and he sacrificed a human victim to it every Tuesday, with general festivities and dances in its honour.

I should remark that Sasabonsum is married. His wife, or more properly speaking his female form, is called Shamantin. She is far less malignant than the male form. Her name comes from Srahman — ghost or spirit; the termination “tin” is an abbreviation of sintstin — tall. She is of immense height, and white; perhaps this idea is derived from the white stem of the silk-cotton trees wherein she invariably abides. Her method of dealing with the solitary wayfarer is no doubt inconvenient to him, but it is kinder than her husband’s ways, for she does not kill and eat him, as Sasabonsum does, but merely detains him some months while she teaches him all about the forest: what herbs are good to eat, or to cure disease; where the game come to drink, and what they say to each other, and so forth. I often wish I knew this lady, for the grim, grand African forests are like a great library, in which, so far, I can do little more than look at the pictures, although I am now busily learning the alphabet of their language, so that I may some day read what these pictures mean.

Do not go away with the idea, I beg, that goddesses as a general rule, are better than gods. They are not. There are stories about them which I could — I mean I could not — tell you. There is one belonging also to the Tschwi. She lives at Moree, a village five miles from Cape Coast. She is, as is usual with deities, human in shape and colossal in size, and as is not usual with deities, she is covered with hair from head to foot, — short white hair like a goat. Her abode is on the path to surf-cursed Anamabu near the sea-beach, and her name is Aynfwa; a worshipper of hers has only got to mention the name of a person he wishes dead when passing her abode and Aynfwa does the rest. She is the goddess of all albinoes, who are said to be more frequent in occurrence round Moree than elsewhere. Ellis says that in 1886, when he was there, they were 1 per cent. of the entire population. These albinoes are, ipso facto, her priests and priestesses, and in old days an albino had only to name anywhere a person Aynfwa wished for, and that person was forthwith killed.

I think I may safely say that every dangerous place in West Africa is regarded as the residence of a god — rocks and whirlpools in the rivers — swamps “no man fit to pass” — and naturally, the surf. Along the Gold Coast, at every place where you have to land through the surf, it fairly swarms with gods. A little experience with the said surf inclines you to think, as the dabblers in spiritualism say “that there is something in it.” I will back this West Coast surf — “the Calemma,” as we call it down South, against any other malevolent abomination, barring only the English climate. Its ways of dealing with human beings are cunning and deceitful. In its most ferocious moods it seizes a boat, straightway swamps it, and feeds its pet sharks with the boat’s occupants. If the surf is merely sky-larking it lets your boat’s nose just smell the sand, and then says “Thought you were all right this time, did you though,” and drags the boat back again under the incoming wave, or catches it under the stern and gaily throws it upside down over you and yours on the beach. Variety, they say, is charming. Let those who say it, and those who believe it, just do a course of surf-work, and I’ll warrant they will change their minds.

There is one thing about the surf that I do not understand, and that is why witches always walk stark naked along the beach by it at night, and eat sea crabs the while. That such is a confirmed habit of theirs is certain; and they tell me that while doing this the witches emit a bright light, and also that there is a certain medicine, which, if you have it with you, you can throw over the witch, and then he, or she, will remain blazing until morning time, running to and fro, crying out wildly, in front of the white, breaking, thundering surf wall, and when the dawn comes the fire burns the witch right up, leaving only a grey ash — and palaver set in this world and the next for that witch.

A highly-esteemed native minister told me when I was at Cape Coast last, that a fortnight before, he had been away in the Apollonia district on mission work. One evening he and a friend were walking along the beach and the night was dark, so that you could see only the surf. It is never too dark to see that, it seems to have light in itself. They saw a flame coming towards them, and after a moment’s doubt they knew it was a witch, and feeling frightened, hid themselves among the bushes that edge the sandy shore. As they watched, it came straight on and passed them, and they saw it disappear in the distance. My informant laughed at himself, and very wisely said, “One has not got to believe those things here, one has in Apollonia.”

To the surf and its spirits the sea-board-dwelling Tschwis bring women who have had children and widows, both after a period of eight days from the birth of the child, or the death of the husband.

A widow remains in the house until this period has elapsed, neglecting her person, eating little food, and sitting on the bare floor in the attitude of mourning. On the Gold Coast they bury very quickly, as they are always telling you, usually on the day after death, rarely later than the third day, even among the natives; and the spirit, or Srah, of the dead man is supposed to hang about his wives and his house until the ceremony of purification is carried out. This is done, needless to say, with uproar. The relations of each wife go to her house with musical instruments — I mean tom-toms and that sort of thing — and they take a quantity of mint, which grows wild in this country, with them. This mint they burn, some of it in the house, the rest they place upon pans of live coals and carry round the widow as she goes in their midst down to the surf, her relatives singing aloud to the Srah of the departed husband, telling him that now he is dead and has done with the lady he must leave her. This singing serves to warn all the women who are not relations to get out of the way, which of course they always carefully do, because if they were to see the widow their own husbands would die within the year.

When the party has arrived at the shore, they strip every rag off the widow, and throw it into the surf; and a thoughtful female relative having brought a suit of dark blue baft with her for the occasion, the widow is clothed in this and returns home, where a suitable festival is held, after which she may marry again; but if she were to marry before this ceremony, the Srah of the husband would play the mischief with husband number two or three, and so on, as the case might be.

In the inland Gold Coast districts the widows remain in a state of mourning for several months, and a selection of them, a quantity of slaves, and one or two free men are killed to escort the dead man to Srahmandazi; and as well as these, and in order to provide him with merchandise to keep up his house and state in the under-world, quantities of gold dust, rolls of rich velvets, silks, satins, etc., are thrown into the grave.

Among the dwellers in Cameroon, when you are across the Bantu border-line, velvets, etc., are buried with a big man or woman; but I am told it is only done for the glorification of his living relatives, so that the world may say, “So and so must be rich, look what a lot of trade he threw away at that funeral of his wife,” or his father, or his son, as the case may be; but I doubt whether this is the true explanation. If it is, I should recommend my German friends, if they wish to intervene, to introduce the income tax into Cameroon — that would eliminate this custom.

The Tschwis hold that there is a definite earthly existence belonging to each soul of a human kind. Let us say, for example, a soul has a thirty years’ bodily existence belonging to it. Well, suppose that soul’s body gets killed off at twenty-five, its remaining five years it has to spend, if it is left alone, in knocking about its old haunts, homes, and wives. In this state it is called a Sisa, and is a nuisance. It will cause sickness. It will throw stones. It will pull off roofs, and it will play the very mischief with its wives’ subsequent husbands, all because, not having reached its full term of life, it has not learnt its way down the dark and difficult path to Srahmandazi, the entrance to which is across the Volta River to the N.E. This knowledge of the path to Srahmandazi is a thing that grows gradually on a man’s immortal soul (the other three souls are not immortal), and naturally not having been allowed to complete his life, his knowledge is imperfect. A man’s soul, however, can be taught the way, if necessary, in the funeral “custom” made by his relatives and the priests; but in a case of an incompletelifeonearthsoul, as a German would say, when it does arrive in the land of Insrah (pl.) it is in a weak and feeble state from the difficulties of its journey, whereas a soul that has lived out its allotted span of life goes straightway off to Srahmandazi as soon as its “custom” or “devil” is made and gives its surviving relatives no further trouble. Still there is great difference of opinion among all the Tschwis and Ga men I have come across on this point, and Ellis likewise remarks on this difference of opinion. Some informants say that a soul that has been sent hence before its time, although it is exhausted by the hardships it has suffered on its journey down, yet recovers health in a month or so; while a soul that has run its allotted span on earth is as feeble as a new-born babe on arriving in Srahmandazi, and takes years to pull round. Other informants say they have no knowledge of these details, and state that all the difference they know of between the souls of men who have been killed and the men who have died, is that the former can always come back, and that really the safest way of disposing of this class of soul is, by suitable spells and incantations, to get it to enter into the body of a new-born baby, where it can live out the remainder of its life.

Before closing these observations on Srahmandazi I will give the best account of that land that I am at present able to. Some day perhaps I may share the fate of the Oxford Professor in In the Wrong Paradise and go there myself, but so far my information is second-hand.

It is like this world. There are towns and villages, rivers, mountains, bush, plantations, and markets. When the sun rises here it sets in Srahmandazi. It has its pleasures and its pains, not necessarily retributive or rewarding, but dim. All souls in it grow forward or backward into the prime of life and remain there, some informants say; others say that each inhabitant remains there at the same age as he was when he quitted the world above. This latter view is most like the South West one. The former is possibly only an attempt to make Srahmandazi into a heaven in conformation with Christian teaching, which it is not, any more than it is a hell.

I have much curious information regarding its flora and fauna. A great deal of both is seemingly indigenous, and then there are the souls of great human beings, the Asrahmanfw, and the souls of all the human beings, animals, and things sent down with them. The ghosts do not seem to leave off their interest in mundane affairs, for they not only have local palavers, but try palavers left over from their earthly existence; and when there is an outbreak of sickness in a Fantee town or village, and several inhabitants die off, the opinion is often held that there is a big palaver going on down in Srahmandazi and that the spirits are sending up on earth for witnesses, subpoenaing them as it were. Medicine men or priests are called in to find out what particular earthly grievance can be the subject of the ghost palaver, and when they have ascertained this, they take the evidence of every one in the town on this affair, as it were on commission, and transmit the information to the court sitting in Srahmandazi. This prevents the living being incommoded by personal journeys down below, and although the priests have their fee, it is cheaper in the end, because the witnesses’ funeral expenses would fall heavier still.

Although far more elaborated and thought out than any other African underworld I have ever come across, the Tschwi Srahmandazi may be taken as a type of all the African underworlds. The Bantu’s idea of a future life is a life spent in much such a place. As far as I can make out there is no definite idea of eternity. I have even come across cases in which doubt was thrown on the present existence of the Creating God, but I think this has arisen from attempts having been made to introduce concise conceptions into the African mind, conceptions that are quite foreign to its true nature and which alarm and worry it. You never get the strange idea of the difference between time and eternity — the idea I mean, that they are different things — in the African that one frequently gets in cultured Europeans; and as for the human soul, the African always believes “that still the spirit is whole, and life and death but shadows of the soul.”

32 “Tshi-speaking People,” Colonel Sir H. B. Ellis.

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